A (brief) book review

The topic of today’s post isn’t quite medieval, but it’s within my own personal arbitrary cut-off date (1600), so that’s good enough for me.

A few months ago I discovered the storage part of the main university library where the historical textbooks of logic are stored, and as I was browsing through interesting-looking 19th C books by people I’ve never heard of, I saw this:
Rudolf Goclenius’s Problemata Logica from 1597. (If you can’t tell from the image, the book is very wee. It’s about the height of my hand.)

Of course, this isn’t actually a 16th C book; I’m sure it would’ve been in the special collections if it were. Instead, it’s a facsimile from 1967. But that does nothing to lessen the delight at finding it.

The book is made up of five volumes:

  1. Logic, part I:
    title page
    255 pages (including a 4 page index), covering generalities concerning the name, definition, and parts of logic, including (a) arguments, (b) causes, with sections on causes generally as well as on efficient, material, formal, final, and effective causes, (c) subjects and adjuncts, (d) opposites, (e) disparates, (f) contraries, (g) adverses, (h) privations, (i) contradictings, (j) the relata of opposites, and (k) comparatives.
  2. Logic, part II, 136 pages including a 4 page index. The topics of this book are: (a) conjugation and etymology, (b) notatio (I think the sense of case markings), (c) parts and wholes, (d) distribution, (e) definition, (f) modes of definition, and (g) testimony.
  3. Logic, part III, 183 pages including a 7 page index, covering: (a) generalities concerning interpretation, (b) generalities concerning enuntiables and their parts, (c) affirmation and negation, (d) contradiction, (e) truth and falsity, (g) the quantity of enuntiables, (h) contingency and the three grades of necessity, (i) usual, unusual, and ‘figurata’ (figurative?) predication.
  4. Logic, part IIII, On the Syllogism. This is 263 pages, 242 pages on syllogism followed by an appendix on legitimate disputation, and then three pages of index.
  5. Logic, part V, 197 pages on the order and method of “didascalia” (Greek is scattered throughout all the volumes). The first order is that of “analytici organikon”; the second is information on harmonics; the third is geometry; the fourth is synthetic physics; and the fifth is arithmetic, four chapters worth.

I so far haven’t had time to do more than look at the indices and contents lists, but even from this three things have struck me: (1) I really want to read the chapter on legitimate disputation, (2) how little much of this looks like logic, to a modern-day logician — something that always strikes me when I look at post-medieval texts –, and (3) how often Goclenius cites other people and sources by name. Cicero shows up quite often, as does Petrus Ramus. Flipping open randomly to pp. 204-205 of part I, we see quotes from 1 Peter 2 (though the quote apparently attributed to it, “Qui quondam eratis non populus, nunc estis populus Dei. Non potui a bono Deo homo creari non bonus”, I’m not finding anything like it in any Latin edition of the Bible), as well as “Ursin.”, “J. Gryn”, “Buf.”, “Claud. Alberius”, “Jul. Scaliger”. Another name that crops up with some frequency is Zabarella. None of these are names that I recognize, because I know very little about the 16th C. “Jul. Scaliger” is probably Julius Caesar Scaliger, an Italian scholar and physician who died in 1558, and Zabarella must be Jacopo Zabarella, who died in 1589 and was a logician. If anyone else knows who the others are, please comment!

I have found very little out there on Goclenius’s logic, other than references to the “Goclenian sorites”, which is apparently nothing more than a sorites with the major premise, rather than the minor premise, first. Even Jenny Ashworth’s fantastic Language and Logic in the Post-Medieval Period doesn’t even cite the Problemata, and mentions Goclenius explicitly once in the body of the text and twice in footnotes. I would love to hear from people who know more about 16th C logic than I do: Have I missed some contemporary discussions? Is there a reason why Goclenius is not much discussed (e.g., he’s loquacious but not very good)? Or is he just a victim of the fact that there are too many historical logicians and not enough people working on historical logic?

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5 Responses to A (brief) book review

  1. Two scholars who have done work on some of the figures you mention, albeit more from a standpoint interested in metaphysical developments leading up to modernity than logic per se, are Jean-Luc Marion and Helen Hattab. Check out Marion’s ‘Descartes’ Metaphysical Prism’ and Dr. Hattab’s ‘Hobbes’s and Zabarella’s Methods’, among other pieces.


  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_Goclenius. Rudolph Goclenius is pretty well represented at the Royal Library of Copenhagen. I will have a brief look at his works, in Copenhagen.


  3. Thanks for reviewing!

    Regarding the biblical quotation, perhaps it would be useful to see in vulgate or commentaries from Protestant Reformers (Goclenius, which is Calvinist, is highly influenced by Petrus Ramus and Melanchthon).

    As far as I know, there ist not much literature about Problemata. But they are quoted by Nuchelmans 1980: 182-187. You could see also Lamanna “Un confronto tra Pererius and Goclenius” in Medioevo. Rivista di storia delle filosofia medievale XXXIV 2009, M. Forlivesi (ed), which gives recent bibliographic references.


  4. Pingback: Pre-1600 logic on googlebooks | Medieval Logic & Semantics

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